Western voters expect a balanced approach to public lands management
Polling across the Rocky Mountain West has shown that an Outdoor Voting Bloc has cemented itself as a strong bipartisan force and an influential factor in election outcomes. Issues involving public lands, parks, and wildlife continue to be priorities for Western voters, and play a significant role in influencing how voters choose candidates. Politicians of wide-ranging ideologies now take pains to demonstrate their support for public lands.
Each year, the Winning the West poll by the Center for Western Priorities demonstrates that public land conservation is a winning campaign issue throughout the West. The 2022 poll results demonstrate that connecting with Westerners requires candidates to strike the right balance on public land conservation, clean energy, and recreation issues. Voters in Mountain West swing states like Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada say that conservation issues are of enormous importance to them. Additional polling, such as the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project’s Conservation in the West Poll, demonstrates the same trends: voters in the West are demanding action on conservation and climate change, are increasingly concerned about environmental issues, and want elected officials who align with these priorities.
Polling consistently shows that strong majorities of Western voters are outdoor enthusiasts who care about public lands and consider themselves conservationists. Almost 90 percent of Western voters say they visited public lands in 2021, and almost 80 percent say they support President Joe Biden’s goal of protecting 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. Eighty percent of Western voters say they support the creation of new national parks, monuments, wildlife refuges, and protected tribal areas, and 6 in 10 Western swing state voters say the government isn’t doing enough to protect the country’s natural resources.
Finally, conservation action is a winning political tool for the President. According to a 2022 media and polling analysis by the Center for Western Priorities and the Center for American Progress, executive conservation action is wildly popular, cuts through the public’s distrust of Washington, is accessible to broad and bipartisan audiences, and garners incredibly positive media coverage.